Phytoplankton and Salmon?

Today was the last day of Beam Reach! We have all worked so hard to get to this point and I think our efforts have paid off. Our presentations went smoothly and we immediately dispersed to our families and homes that are all across the country.  I decided that my last blog should be a summary of my independent project of the course because I have failed to mention it so far. My project looked at the ecological significance of the Southern Resident killer whales. When looking at the trophic interactions that are involved in their food chain it is apparent that bottom up analyses is understudied. Most people seem to look at top down control of the Southern Residents such as what negative impacts are directly affecting the whales. Not many studies seem to focus on how primary productivity affects their population. Here is a graph I used in my presentation that illustrates the trophic interactions that are involved in the Southern Resident killer whale food chain. The Southern Residents are known to primarily eat chinook salmon. Chinook salmon eat forage fish. The forage fish eat zooplankton and the zooplankton eat phytoplankton. These interactions led to my hypothesis trying to find a linear relationship between primary productive ‘hotspots’ or areas of high amount of phytoplankton and presence of fish. My sample sites were on the west side of San Juan Island and over Salmon Bank. I concluded my project and presentation with insignificant differences between phytoplankton abundance between sites and the absence of large targets. This does not mean that there isn’t a linear relationship between the two. It implies that environmental factors that can drive variation in phytoplankton abundance within our transect of study was insignificantly different between sites. Therefore future methods were suggested to contain another transect with different tidal patterns so  primary productive hotspots or significant differences in abundance of phytoplankton could be found. If anyone wants to look at each of our presentations you can go to the beam reach website at and our talks should be up there soon! Well this is it…have a great summer everyone!




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